Before Sunday's home opener, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve stood at center court at Target Center with her point guard, the former University of Minnesota star.

For years, Reeve would strategize similarly with Lindsay Whalen. Sunday, the former Gopher was Rachel Banham, the latest Lynx player trying to become Whalen's semi-permanent replacement.

The Lynx are starting their fifth season without Whalen, a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

In the past four seasons, they have had four different players lead the team in assists — Danielle Robinson in 2018, Odyssey Sims in 2019, Crystal Dangerfield in 2020 and Layshia Clarendon in 2021.

Those players have also contributed to mad shuffling at the position. Sims pushed Robinson aside as the team's most effective playmaker in 2019. Sims was traded in February 2021, and now is back as an important player off the bench. Dangerfield was WNBA Rookie of the Year in 2020 and released in 2022, along with Clarendon, who was considered a vital player until nagging injuries caused Reeve to release the team's presumptive starting point guard.

Before Washington defeated the Lynx 78-66, Reeve was asked who she wanted her eventual starting point guard to be. "I have an answer that just went in my head. I'm gonna hold that one," she said with a smile. "Life after all-time greats is really hard at those positions, really hard ... We're going to take things as they come. Rachel is going to start for us. Do I think that's the answer long term? I mean, it's hard to know."

Banham is a skilled shooter and ballhandler but has been mostly a bench player as a pro. Reeve said she wants Banham playing with the starting unit and Sims playing alongside Bridget Carleton.

In the season opener at Seattle on Friday, Banham made one of six shots, was 0-for-4 from the three-point line, and had three assists and three turnovers.

In the first half on Sunday, Banham was 0-for-3 from the field, with one assist, in nine minutes, as the Lynx produced perhaps their worst half of basketball since the 2000s — or before they traded for Whalen.

At Minnesota, Banham was a dynamic shoot-first point guard. In the WNBA, she usually faces more athletic point guards. She will need to shoot and run the offense with high efficiency to keep the starting job.

Reeve has always praised Banham's character and savvy, and did so again before the game on Sunday. There is no substitution, though, for making shots.

Sims was signed off the street when the Lynx waived Clarendon. The other point guard in the current rotation, Yvonne Turner, averaged 6.4 points and 2.3 assists in about 20 minutes per game in 2019 for Phoenix.

Nobody should expect the Lynx to find another Whalen, but the succession plan has turned into a series of hopes.

With the point guards struggling to shoot straight or run the offense, the Lynx's most talented players looked lost, and frustrated. Sylvia Fowles was strangely passive after scoring four early points, and finished the first half with a minus-20 rating, worst among Lynx starters.

Aerial Powers and Angel McCoughtry are known as high-energy players, but neither of them were effective in the first half, either.

There is nothing more energizing in basketball than making shots, and the worse the Lynx shot, the worse they played. They made seven of 31 shots in the first half. Jessica Shepard made three of five; the rest of the team went 3-for-26.

At one point in the first half, Reeve turned to the bench and yelled a sentence that included the words "23 points!''

In the second half, Sims and Turner took over the backcourt and sparked a comeback that cut a 27-point lead to eight in the last minutes, as Powers and McCoughtry were benched.

The Lynx need Sims to win the starting point guard job. She was an All-Star for them in 2019, and they are going to need her toughness now.